Neil Jackson talks ‘The King’s Man,’ stunts and the meaning of trench coats

Theo & Juliet

Although Eggsy and Harry won’t be appearing in the upcoming The King’s Man film, one actor we should all be excited to see is Neil Jackson. Jackson, best known for Welcome to Marwen, Absentia, and Make it or Break it, stars as Captain Forrest in this prequel. 

The King’s Man is a prequel movie set during World War One and looks like we’ll get to see the origins of the Kingsman organization.

“That’s essentially what it is, the origin of the Kingsman organization set in the onset of World War One. What Matthew Vaughn, a genius, has done brilliantly is work in all the factual elements that lead to the instigation of World War One… So you’ve got the two sides: the axis of evil who will try to create a world war, the reasons for why they want to create a World War and the global dominance plan that they have in place and then the group of people who are trying to see behind the lies to find out the bigger plan and scupper it,” said Jackson. “And I play Captain Forrest who is a higher commander in the British Army and is tasked with securing a piece of secret information that could turn the tide of the war. He has to venture out of the trenches of World War One’s no man’s land to secure this information.”

Theo & Juliet

Jackson knew that Captain Forrest was going to be a very physical role and spent eight weeks getting in shape.

“It was crazy demanding… On the second morning, I came back and sat for about a half an hour with bags of frozen peas on my knees because my legs were so swollen from the demands of the action sequences we were doing. But they’re gonna look incredible,” said Jackson. “In terms of research, I went to the British Museum. They happened to have a World War One exhibit so, I went with my brother and my mom and learned a little bit about it. But that wasn’t as essential for my character. Then I watched a couple of World War One movies just to kind of really familiarize myself with the energy in the tone because, of course, it’s essentially a superhero story as the other Kingsmen were, it’s very heightened and action-orientated, but I wanted to make sure that I sound and act like a captain in the British Army would act at that time.”

Luckily, with period films, a lot of the tone and preparation comes in the costuming and the locations. 

“Other than that, it was really just talking to Matthew Vaughn and kind of getting a sense of the tone he wanted to achieve and so much of it was done by the amazing costumes that they had… It probably took two people to get you dressed because of all the different layers that went into the outfits that they wore. And I finally, I put on my trench coat and was buttoning the trench coat up and was like ‘is this why it’s called a trench coat?’ I had never realized that trench coats were called trench coats because they were worn in the trenches during World War One and that’s how they got their name, which kind of made me laugh. The costumes were just incredible,” said Jackson. “And the trenches, they’d taken over a huge expansive field just outside of West London where they built this no man’s land. So we were standing in this fully functional trench where there was a labyrinth of trenches that you could walk through with the sandbags and the mud and everything else. Climb up the makeshift ladders that were period-specific and then look out over as far as you can see at an expansive no man’s land with the barbed wire and bomb craters and dead bodies of horses and people that were prosthetics. And so much of it was done with the costumes and the visuals that really you’d just say your lines and take your marks and do the fight sequences because the rest was already done for us.”

Jackson was a fan of the first two films so getting to be a part of these epic fight scenes was a real treat for him.

original theatrical release poster

“The second one (Golden Circle) was really fun but the first one (Secret Service) was genre-bending. It was so clever and so fun, and the fight sequences, the way he (Vaughn) does the stitching in the edit so it seems like one long continual take, specifically the chair sequence where [Harry] is having this big fight sequence with loads of people. They’re just epic,” said Jackson.

Another awesome aspect of the Kingsmen films are the cool gadgets (like fan favorite, Harry’s umbrella) but due to the time period, the story focuses more on courage.

It’s a little pre gadget. There’ll be a couple of little gadgets and little things that will crop up but this isn’t so much a gadget movie, it’s more about pluck and courage, and it’s about the ingenuity of Ralph Fiennes’ character as he starts to uncover what the axis of evil are creating and then a group of very courageous people will go against the odds to try to make sure that evil doesn’t triumph,” said Jackson. “This is such a fun summer blockbuster.”

The King’s Man prequel is set to hit theaters September 18. Jackson’s other upcoming projects include the DC Universe’s upcoming Stargirl which premieres on May 18 and Amazon’s Absentia which will have a mid-July Season 3 premiere. Jackson also wrote a feature film that he is preparing to direct! 

I can’t wait to get the chance to call ‘action’ on the first day as a director on one of my feature films.”